Written by: Val Rasmussen

Photography by: Rebekah Westover

Invitations are sent and RSVPs are flying in. Now what? Whether it’s an intimate gathering or a full-blown affair, ’tis the season for at-home soirées. Want to know how to impress your guests with flawless and on-trend party style?
No one knows how to plan an unforgettable party like the pros at Michelle Leo Events, who steer clear of overused palettes and overdone menus. “When decorating a tabletop for the holidays, I prefer to infuse lots of little details to complete the setting,” says MLE owner Michelle Leo. Here’s how her team pulls it off:

Step 1: Start with the bottom layer.

“I think of design in terms of layers to stay on track and create a cohesive look. For example, I start with the base—my table linen—and layer in details from there. For this look, I chose a textured (velvet) linen runner in a rich, dark color to offset the lighter floral and decor.”

Step 2: Layer in small details.

“Next, I layer in details in coordinating, lighter colors to contrast with my base. From the metallic copper charger and rose-gold flatware to the menu and sprig of cinnamon, each piece builds upon the other to create a cohesive, festive design.”

Step 3: Light it up.

“My secret weapon is candles; the more the better! Oftentimes, lighting is a forgotten design element, but it’s so impactful, especially for a cozy, winter table setting. Fill in empty space around your centerpiece with candles, or forgo the fresh floral and create a focal point with candles of different heights to draw the eye in and create a feeling of warmth.”

Step 4: Bon Appetit!

Turn on the tunes and enjoy the feast. 

Lux Catering serves up a Snake River Farms braised waygu Zabuton beef –topped with pistachio and pine nut crust – pairs with seasonal winter harvest veggies and a butternut squash puree.

A blood orange and roasted beet salad topped with yogurt, tarragon and hazelnuts starts the dining experience.

Rose and pomegranate pot de creme finishes off the meal.

Step 5: When in doubt, hire it out.

If this all seems overwhelming to take on yourself, I get it. In that case, hire the party planning out or pick a few to-dos that you can nail on your own. Fill in with a platter (or two or three, ha!) from a caterer or restaurant, a centerpiece from a florist or some rental items to accentuate your grandmother’s china collection. Here’s who we like to call in a pinch:

Planning and design: Michelle Leo Events, SLC

Photos: Rebekah Westover, Provo

Venue: Ember, SLC

Food: Lux Catering, SLC

Floral: Urban Chateau Floral, SLC

China, glassware, flatware, tables and chairs: Diamond Rental, Murray

Copper chargers, menu backers and table numbers: Michelle Leo Events, SLC

Lounge seating rentals: Eclectic Hive, SLC

Linens: BBJ Linen

Paper: Lynn & Lou Paper Co. 

Want to know how to upgrade a holiday centerpiece?

In search of cutting boards for your charcuterie platters?

Hosting a January party? Try these minimalist table designs.

Previous articleHow-To: Be a Wrap Star
Next article4 Flavorful Twists on Cranberry Sauce